Frequently Asked Questions

Are you a 501(c)(3) registered organization?

Yes. Our application for recognition of this status was approved by the IRS with an effective date of March 1, 2008. Our US Tax ID (EIN) is 26-2047463. In the US you may be able to deduct donations to Reading With Conviction from your state and federal tax returns. We will provide you with written receipts acknowledging donations of either funds or books.

What happens to my money?

100% of our donations go towards either purchasing or shipping books. These books go the Windham School District, the entity responsible for educational programs in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. You can get a good feel for what Windham is doing by reading their most recent annual report.

The important thing to take away from the annual report is that Windham services 88 libraries and had over 30,000 prisoners take Literacy courses in the last reported year. Their libraries got just 12,000 new books to support his effort. That’s not enough.

If you want to know where your tax dollars are going, the TDOCJ has a nice list of publications you can peruse. My favorites are the Annual Review (2015 is the most recent) and the Statistical Report (2015 is the most recent).

Why would I want to do something good for criminals?

Reading With Conviction is not a prisoner advocacy program, and doesn’t have anything to say about treatment of convicts, length of sentences, or institutional conditions. However, we do think that society as a whole has a vested interest in converting convicts into good citizens.

It’s clear that no country on earth has come up with a magic bullet for reforming criminal behavior. Despite that uncertainty, it is our belief that supplying prisons with fiction, self-help, and vocational literature will help some people change their lives for the better.

There is a demonstrated strong correlation between functional illiteracy and criminal behavior. Correlation does not imply causation, so we can’t offer a guarantee, but it seems possible that turning a convict into a bookworm is going to reduce that person’s risk for recidivism.

Criminal justice is a big problem in the United States. If you think supplying prison libraries with books is a mistake, that’s certainly your right. Use the comment section below to tell us what you are personally doing to reduce the cost of crime in our society.

How can I help?

The best way to help is to donate books. Gather up all your books at home that meet these specifications, box them up, and send us an email via the contact form. If you are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we will either arrange for a pickup or let you know where they can be dropped off.

If you don’t have any good used books, or you aren’t in the D/FW area, please order some books from Amazon.com that have been requested by the prison librarian. You can also use the link on the sidebar of this page to make a directed donation specifically for the purchase of books.

I have some good books, but can’t drop them off

USPS Media mail is a reasonably cheap way to transport books - it will cost you less than $1 per book to mail using this method. Send an email using the contact form at the bottom of this page, and I’ll provide you with a shipping address.

I recommend adding signature tracking to your shipment, and sending me the tracking info via email after you ship your package.

I’d rather just give you some money

Please visit our Donate page I’ll either use your money to purchase books or apply it to shipping costs. Once the money is spent I’ll drop you a note letting you know where it went.

Can I use these contributions as a tax deduction?

Yes. If I have your postal address, I’ll send you a receipt for your donation, which is completely deductible.